Apple used to make much smaller handsets, and had a throwback edition with the 4in iPhone SE a few years back - although it's been discontinued, much to the sadness of certain i-fans. Rumours of a second edition came and went in 2018 to no avail.
But they're back: leaks suggest that Apple plans to revisit the iPhone SE concept very, very soon with a different kind of approach. Here's what we've heard so far.
When will the Apple iPhone SE 2 be out?
The original iPhone SE (shown) launched in March 2016, offering a nice respite from the ever-larger flagship iPhones on the market. The sequel was expected to finally break cover in a matter of weeks.
Nikkei reported that a lower-cost iPhone in the same vein as the iPhone SE will launch in early 2020. Naming has not yet been decided, so don't hold it against us if the "SE" branding disappears, but the publication suggests that the phone will be Apple's move to help fill the void left by increasingly-pricier flagship iPhones.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via 9to5Mac) points to a Q1 2020 release for the iPhone SE 2. Some rumours point to "iPhone 9" branding instead, but right now it seems very much up in the air. A Bloomberg report on 21 January claims that Apple is ready to begin mass production in February ahead of a potential March release, which lines up with other reports.
Meanwhile, German website iPhone Ticker reports that sources with Apple have told them of a late March press event, likely on 31 March, ahead of a phone release on 3 April. Could we be wielding the next iPhone SE (or the iPhone 9) by early April?
But now, a sad twist: Cult of Mac's source with the company suggests that the event has been cancelled due to both concerns over coronavirus (COVID-19) and production delays, the latter of which is probably tied into effects from the former. We could well still see the phone launched in the near future, but given the current shift towards axing large gatherings, Apple could go for a different approach.
We expected a launch very soon, but even Apple can't fight the rising fear over coronavirus.
How much will the Apple iPhone SE 2 cost?
Apple's current-generation iPhones start at £729 and rise rapidly from there. The iPhone SE 2 will undoubtedly fall well under that price point.
The original iPhone SE launched at £379 back in 2016, and while we anticipate some upward movement on the price scale, it shouldn't be dramatic. Something in the ballpark of £449 might make sense, but we're just guessing at this point.
Apple's continued price push has created an even greater opportunity for Android makers to lure buyers away with appealing mid-range and low-end options. A more affordable, yet still powerful iPhone could help Apple regain a bit of momentum in the lower price categories.
A price point that's a smidge higher than the original iPhone SE launch price sounds about right to us, but we'll see how further leaks and rumours shake out.
What will the Apple iPhone SE 2 look like?
The original iPhone SE looked like a slightly refactored iPhone 5S, and Apple has shown a tendency in recent years to stick with designs for years and years. Just look at the iPhone 6/6s/7/8.
In fact, the 4.7in design from the iPhone 8 will reportedly serve as the basis for the iPhone SE 2, rather than the 4in design of the iPhone 5s. That's according to Nikkei, which cites three sources with the information.
That would make the iPhone SE 2 larger than its predecessor, but given how large the screens on Apple's flagship phones are nowadays, that's still more than an inch smaller than the iPhone XS. Apple still sells the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 right now, along with the Plus-sized versions, although that could certainly change by the time next spring rolls around.
What you're seeing around this page are concept renders prepared by OnLeaks and shared by iGeeksBlog based on information from their sources. Yes, it looks very much like the iPhone 8, and they seem confident that it's what we'll see when the iPhone SE 2 officially breaks cover.
The original iPhone SE came in just the one size, but a report by 9to5Mac suggests that the sequel will also come in a Plus rendition, much like the iPhone 6-8. Reportedly, leaked iOS 14 code points to the existence of a new 5.5in model to go alongside the 4.7in edition, which would certainly make the rumoured iPhone 9 naming make a lot more sense. This is the first we've heard of a larger rendition, though.
Apple's not done with that iPhone 6-8 design just yet! And the Plus version could come back out of retirement, too.
What about the Apple iPhone SE 2's screen?
It's hard to believe that we'll see any significant improvements on the screen front compared to the iPhone 8. Apple never bumped the resolution on its 4.7in models, despite being behind the curve in the flagship space.
The iPhone 8's screen was an LCD panel at 1334x750, or 326 pixels per inch (ppi), so the iPhone SE 2 is sure to land in the exact same spot. Apple left 3D Touch out of the iPhone SE, and then the iPhone XR followed suit - and rumours suggest that the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max will do the same, finally eliminating that functionality from the modern iPhone lineup. There's no reason to expect it to return in the iPhone SE 2, then.
Seems like a safe bet to expect the same 4.7in LCD screen here.
How much power will the Apple iPhone SE 2 pack?
With the original iPhone SE, Apple made a surprising move: despite the dated design and some other older specs, the SE featured the latest and greatest iPhone processor at the time.
Nikkei reports that the iPhone SE 2 "will share most of the same components with the flagship iPhones this year," which suggests a similar approach. And analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has since backed that up, claiming that the new phone will have the same A13 Bionic processor as the iPhone 11 line, along with 3GB RAM. Bloomberg confirmed that detail about the A13 in its January report.
That would give the phone enough power to run the latest games and apps, and ensure that the overall lineup isn't bogged down by older tech. Kuo believes that the main target is iPhone 6 owners who haven't upgraded in some time, and whose phones cannot upgrade to iOS 13.
With the A13 Bionic, the iPhone SE 2 will be a small yet speedy option.
What kind of camera will the Apple iPhone SE 2 have?
Don't expect a dual-camera setup like the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, or even a triple-camera setup like the rumoured iPhone 11 Pro models. Like the iPhone 8, XR, and original iPhone SE, we're anticipating a single shooter on the back of the iPhone SE 2.
What kind of quality should we expect? Most likely, if the iPhone 8 (shown) model is the basis for this new iPhone SE 2, then we'll see the iPhone 8's great 12-megapixel shooter on the back. It takes great snaps, even if it doesn't match the highest of the high-end smartphone cameras today - or the Pixel 3a, for that matter. But it's still a good one.
A 12-megapixel camera makes sense, assuming the iPhone SE 2 is essentially a reworked iPhone 8.
Is there anything else I should know about the Apple iPhone SE 2?
Rumours in 2018 suggested that the iPhone SE 2 would keep the headphone port, given the expected 4in frame - but if it's the 4.7in iPhone 8 frame now, then that seems very unlikely.
Elsewhere, the iPhone 8 had Touch ID, so we're guessing that the iPhone SE 2 will hold the title of the lone modern iPhone to house the feature. The OnLeaks concept renders back that up, as seen here, and Bloomberg also believes as much.
Will it also feature wireless charging? That seems like a feature that's more likely to leave a budget-friendlier model, although we'll see whether Apple opts to pull it out if the glass backing is kept intact.
All of this should add up to a well-equipped, compact phone with flagship power at a lower cost. We're looking forward to seeing the iPhone SE 2 break cover early next year... we hope.